BY CHINA JONES-BURGESS, 11TH GRADE, RICHARD WRIGHT PCS
Aa Student Representative on the DC State Board of Education, China Jones-Burgess, a junior at Richard Wright Public Charter School in Southwest, has already begun working with her DC peers to listen to concerns and requests. Jones- Burgess began her journey in advocacy three years ago serving on the Student Advisory Committee for the State Board and the DC Public Schools Chancellor Board for two terms.
This year, Jones-Burgess is working to create a place for all students in DC Public Schools (DCPS) to feel safe and heard, by not just the State Board, but by DCPS. As China has begun to communicate with DC students about their concerns and requests she has learned there is a lot she has to do.
She asked questions of her peers and received candid replies. In response to the question “do you believe that there needs to be more opportunities for scholars like the Student Representative position and what opportunities and why?” a junior at Richard Wright, Naomi Jones, said “I definitely feel like there needs to be more opportunities for scholars, such as teaching students how to be financially independent, learning how to create their own resumes, and lastly teach students how to properly behave and acclimate themselves to a workspace. I believe we need these opportunities because a lot of students don’t understand how to maintain jobs, and students don’t really know about life after high school, especially if they’re going to college and don’t have financial backing it can be very hard for them.”
In response to the question “as a student Representative, what can I do for students of DC?” DCPS student Keliah Love said “What I would like from you, as a Student Representative, is to try and enlighten teachers that ‘if you’re a teacher act like it.’ In my personal experience, I’ve encountered teachers who come just for the paycheck; they don’t assign on-grade-level work, they assign stuff we’ve learned before, comparable constant review and this doesn’t help whatsoever. If you were to ask students if they want to go to college, 80% or more of the students will raise their hands saying yes, and as our teachers it’s your job (quite literally) to prepare us and make sure we’re ready because to even BECOME a teacher you have to have qualifications that include a college degree which means you’re more than capable of teaching us college readiness which is within your jobs’ duties.”
Hearing these student concerns, Jones-Burgess has an absolute goal of making these things happen. She has already seen the lack of students knowing about their goals after high school and has partnered with an organization called “Forever True” to create college and career readiness workshops to help students build their knowledge on building resumes, brag sheets, and deciding what they are passionate about. Jones-Burgess continues to be the voice for her school community and supports all DC students.